Hope in the Face of Tragedy

What strength do I have, that I should still hope?  What prospects, that I should be patient?

Job 6:11

These are indeed strange times we are living in. Collective grief and trauma, huge unknowns, uncertain economy. We live in the tension of knowing our hope is secure in the Lord and yet the circumstances are anything but secure. How do you keep going?

Maybe you’ve heard voices that like to whisper to your vulnerabilities in these moments. I know I have.

Isn’t it foolish to keep going down this way? Doesn’t common sense beg for this action or that action?

In the words of Job, why precisely should we be patient? Sometimes our questions take on the tone of a pleading victim. Other times we are the prosecuting attorney with Jesus in the hot seat. We are certain our well-crafted arguments will slice and dice the creator of the universe into giving us what we want. We are impressed with our pain. We are above hope; we are realistic.

But that is a dangerous place to stay. In those moments, I am learning to abandon my own store of grit and gumption, and just cling to God himself.

So many of us ruminate over what we would do in this spot, being out of strength to hope. We do our best to avoid this position. But the Bible tells us this that this is not a place to breeze past, but one in which we can become stronger than ever.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When we are weak, then we are strong. How is this even possible?

We were never meant to live by our own strength as a new creation. That’s one of the beautiful parts of being a child of God is that we have access to peace that surpasses all understanding, hope that truly can’t be shaken, and strength that defies weakness.

But it’s easy to say all of that when everything is going great. What does this look like lived out in the face of truly trying times? Because we have all experienced the shaking that tragedy brings. What would it look like then to still have hope in the midst of a tragedy? One image comes to mind.

For many years, I classically trained as a dancer. Ballet was my favorite style. But in all the styles, part of our warm-up exercises often involved balancing on one leg with the other in a passe position, meaning the foot was at the knee of the supporting leg.

While you indeed had to stay focused and build up muscle in your feet, ankles, and legs to be able to balance, what really held this position together was your core, your abdominal muscles. If my core was strong, I had a much better chance of balancing. I could actually sway a bit or move my arms, but because my core was laced tight, I didn’t lose my balance.

That’s how I envision hope working in my life. It’s the core. It’s the strong core that allows you and me to flex and sway and respond to life but not collapse in ultimate despair.

I don’t know what tragedies or traumas have marked the landscape of your heart. I don’t know what losses have caused you to sob aloud or weep in private. But if you are a believer, you can depend on your core, the core of hope even in those lowest moments.

The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.

Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart

If you aren’t sure yet if you have access to that kind of hope, I’d love to talk about it with you. Send me a message today!